Following a prosecution brought by Toronto Public Health (TPH) against Layalina Lounge, the Ontario Court of Justice convicted the operator and imposed a Closing Order under the City of Toronto Act, 2006, together with a $1,000 fine.
This is the first Closing Order issued for violation of the hookah bylaw, which prohibits hookah use in licensed establishments. The hookah bylaw came into effect under the City of Toronto’s Municipal Code Chapter 545, Licensing on April 1, 2016.
A hookah, also known as a waterpipe, is a device that is used to smoke moist tobacco or non-tobacco herbal products, known as shisha. People who use a hookah to smoke tobacco and individuals exposed to second-hand smoke are at risk for similar health effects as cigarette smokers, including heart and lung diseases and lung cancer. Research also shows that staff and patrons in indoor hookah cafes are exposed to air pollution at levels that are considered harmful to human health. Toronto City Council approved the hookah bylaw because of the significant negative health effects for hookah smokers and those exposed to second-hand hookah smoke.
The Closing Order issued to Layalina Lounge at 225 Church St. will require the business to be closed from March 16 to 18, 2018. The Closing Order requires the business to be closed to any use and allows for police to bar entry to the premises for the duration of the closure as outlined in the City of Toronto Act.
The hookah bylaw was challenged in court and on June 13, 2017 the Court of Appeal for Ontario upheld the bylaw and the City’s authority to prohibit hookah use in licensed establishments. TPH has taken a progressive enforcement approach that included public education to raise awareness of the health effects of hookah and the new bylaw requirements. Active enforcement of the bylaw began in June 2017 and outreach was conducted to all known businesses to make them aware of the bylaw and all establishments were inspected.
The City of Toronto will continue to investigate and take enforcement action against business operators of hookah lounges for continued non-compliance. As other operators are convicted of non-compliance, they may also be subject to Closing Orders.
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